Time flew by; it has been five years since Rio was admitted to the Royal Institute.
The twelve year old Rio was now a sixth grade student in the elementary course.
Ever since the time Rio transferred in, he continued to face opposition which continued until now.
Furthermore, the level of bullying escalated proportionally to his grade.
They said that, since he was unable to complete the Contract Ceremony even once, he became the first failure in the history of the Royal Institute.
They said that, his outstanding academic scores were a fraud.
They said that, he was performing immoral acts with female students.
They said that, he extorted money from his juniors.
With the exception of the claim about the Contract Ceremony, all the other claims were baseless rumours without any evidence.
But the Institute left the rumours alone doing nothing to dispel them.
Rio did not understand why they chose to do so but it was a trivial matter for him.
Therefore Rio ignored the rumours and did nothing to refute them.
The person himself had no intentions of doing anything about it.
As a result, Rio was left without any friends due to those rumours. Amongst the students, he was known as the most prominent problem child in all of the Royal Institute’s history.
By the way, the number of electives students could take increased as they progressed to the upper grades of the elementary course.
While many of the young noble students chose liberal arts as their electives, Rio preferred electives that could satisfy his intellectual curiosity.
“Okay, let’s begin with the introduction of magic theory. As many of you already know, I will be in charge of this class for the year. Frankly because you’ve had limited exposure to magic theory up until now, many students may find the contents of this class to be challenging, but since you’re all here it must mean that you’re interested in this topic.”
Seria was in charge of the overview of magic theory class which was one of the electives Rio chose.
Even though she was already 17 years old, her body stopped growing when it reached the level of a junior high school student.
The elective was unpopular among the students due to magic theory being impractical and insignificant. The only reason why some students selected the elective was because a genius was in charge of the lectures.
On the other hand, there were a handful of male students who chose the elective because they were charmed by the lecturer’s appearance.
There were 30 students in the class including Rio.
Christina and Roana were among the students as well as Flora who was one grade below them.
“First off, what is magic? How do we invoke magic? These are the two main topics we’ll be focusing on. Does anyone want to share their thoughts on what magic is? How about Princess Christina?”
“Yes. It’s a technique used to interfere with the laws of nature and create various phenomena.”
Christina answered in a plain tone.
“Ooh, to already start with such a great answer. As expected of Her Highness the Princess.”
Hearing Seria’s praise, the surrounding students sent Christina respectful glances with expressions as if to say “as expected of Christina”.
“Magic can be defined from various viewpoints. What Princess Christina just said is the definition focusing on the nature and essence of magic. Magic is a technique used to interfere with the laws of nature and create various phenomena. This definition is from the book written by renowned magician Zera-sama.”
The students displayed interest at Seria’s words.
“Now there’s also another commonly accepted definition focusing on the invocation of magic. I wonder if everybody knows about the process of invoking magic. Let’s see, Scott?”
Called by Seria, the student by the name of Scott confidently stood up.
“Yes. Magic is invoked by reciting the incantation learned during the Contract Ceremony.”
“Nn~, you confused the preparation stage with the invocation stage. Then, next is Roana-san.”
Knowing that his answer was incorrect, Scott regretfully sat down again.
Being chosen, Roana stood up from her seat.
“Yes. The process is divided into several major steps: creating a mental image of the magic spell, releasing magical power, and chanting the incantation. These three steps provide the basis of the invocation process.”
Roana answered without hesitation.
“As expected of Roana-san. As you said, there are 3 steps in invoking magic. However, there is one important concept supporting the 3. Do you know what it is?”
“That is… I don’t know.”
Not knowing the answer, she displayed a regretful expression and pouted her lips.
“I see, then how about you Rio?”
“It’s control of magical power.”
“Correct. As expected.”
The subtle sounds of students clicking their tongues could be heard in the class.
Rio knew something that Roana did not.
They were unable to stomach that fact.
Hearing those sounds, Seria could only sigh in her mind and continued with her lecture.
“Unexpectedly, no one was paying attention but control of magical power is the crux of magic. When invoking magic, everyone chants the incantation from the contract right? During that time, you are subconsciously controlling your magical power.”
Other than Rio, it was the first time everybody heard about that. Each one of them displayed a look brimming with curiosity.
“Control of magical power isn’t the only important thing during the process of invoking magic.
To control it, it is also necessary to know the class of magic. Why do you think there are magic spells that cannot be contracted by people? Control of magical power is closely related to that.”
The students in the class were keenly listening to Seria’s explanation.
Raising his hand along with shouting in a loud voice, a boy broke the silence in the classroom.
Seria turned her attention towards the student named Stead who raised his hand.
“In other words, the ones who aren’t able to complete the Contract Ceremony have poor control over their magical power right?”
Stead looked at Rio and displayed a mocking smile.
Many other students did the same.
Rio ignored them and with a calm expression, continued focusing on the front of the class.
On the other hand, Seria slightly frowned.
“…That way of talking is too extreme. Also, your language is unacceptable.”
“Forgive me. I will be careful. Thank you for telling me.”
Even though he was rebuked by Seria, Stead sat down with a satisfied look.
“Alright, let us resume the lecture. In the first place…”
After that, Seria’s lecture progressed smoothly without any problems and lecture ended in a flash.
“As expected of Seria-sensei! It is worthy for a genius like yourself to have your name go down in the Royal Institute’s history. I’m greatly impressed by your deep insight.”
When the lesson ended, Stead approached Seria and began complimenting her.
Stead was a student one year below Rio, the son of a Duke’s house.
“Ahaha. Thank you.”
Seria thanked him with a strained smile.
During that time, Rio quickly finished packing his bag and prepared to leave class.
Noticing him, Seria called out to him.
“Oi, commoner. Even though you can’t use magic, why are you taking this lecture when the only skills you possess are mere lip service and cheap tricks? You’re a despicable bastard who endangers the chastity of the women and girls in this class.”
However, someone’s voice rebutted Stead’s words.
Seria stepped forward and positioned herself between Rio and Stead.
“I don’t know what you’ve been told but he is free to choose any elective he wants.”
For Rio, this kind of trouble was a daily occurrence and he chose to ignore it as usual.
“Hmph, you lowly bastard, I’ll remember your face commoner, so you better start running away in fear. I’ve misunderstood you before so treat this as a warning.”
“What do you mean?”
“Che. Such insolence, are you pretending not to hear me? Don’t delude yourself, wasn’t it thanks to your underhanded tricks that you were able to enroll in the Royal Institute? In the end a commoner will always remain a commoner, an idiot that will slow us down, a nuisance.”
He was among one of the boys who clicked their tongues earlier, to whom Rio retorted.
“I understand. Then I will try my best to not stand out in this lecture from now on.”
“N? Ha, haha, what the hell did you say? I’m saying from now on don’t come to this lecture anymore, you.”
Shi~n, the classroom became dead silent.
The surrounding students gave Rio icy stares.
In the midst of that, Christina was acting as if the situation had nothing to do with her, Flora was nervously fidgeting, and Roana was pouting; they had all heard Rio’s conversation.
“I heard that you’ve been deceiving and harming the girls. You’re an existence that cannot be overlooked.”
Social status, lineage, prestige, wealth.
All noble girls sought marriage partners based on those conditions.
Since birth, noble girls were obligated to search for a suitable marriage partner.
But, around the age of twelve, it was the age when girls started developing interests in the opposite sex.
At this age, it was a fact that they were more interested in physical appearances than practical qualifications.
Even noble girls were not exempt from that fact.
Rio still possessed a boyish innocence, yet his androgynous appearance became more refined over the years.
To sum it up, his uncommon black hair gave him an exotic atmosphere.
As a result, the noble girls often made advances on Rio because it gave them the feeling of playing with fire.
Rio ignored all the girls who approached him.
Jealousy ignited in the other male students and they began spreading baseless rumours about Rio.
Convinced the things he heard were true, Stead accused Rio of perpetrating the contents of the rumours.
Never once doubting that Rio was the enemy of all women.
Even if they were just rumours, Rio found it disgusting.
“Hey. Stead, you’re a noble, so don’t accuse someone without any evidence.”
Having watched the scene unfold, Seria intervened.
With the appearance of Seria, Stead held back what he wanted to say.
“Even if Rio is that sort of person, as a lecturer and as long as I still draw breath, I shall not allow that sort of behaviour in the classroom.”
She clearly stated.
Stead reluctantly withdrew after hearing that.
“…I will abide to your words. …but remember this commoner. You’ve just made yourself an enemy of my parents’ house, Duke Euguno’s house.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.”
After saying that, Rio bowed to Seria and left the classroom.
Rio signalled to meet Seria after school by giving her a wry smile. It was a sign only known to the two of them.
After school, Rio arrived at Seria’s laboratory room.
“Seriously, they’re detestable as usual.”
“Well, I’m more or less already accustomed to it.”
Rio smiled bitterly while tasting the black tea.
By the way, it was Rio who brewed the tea.
The reason being Seria claimed Rio was better at brewing tea than she was. Thus whenever they chatted in the laboratory room, Rio was the one who brewed the tea.
“In the past, I was also bullied due to jealousy from my peers, but Rio’s situation is much more severe. Anyhow, they’re spreading rumours about you because the girls are interested in you?”
Seria said that while watching for a reaction from Rio.
“It’s because I’m not interested.”
Hearing the words from the unsociable person in front of her, Seria could only sigh.
“Isn’t there a chance for a reverse-Cinderella?”
“I highly doubt it. Their house would never allow it even if I associated with them.”
Rio kept his calm judgement to the bitter end.
Judging from his demeanor, Seria thought he was truly uninterested.
While nodding half-heartedly, Seria wondered why Rio was so obstinate.
For anyone his age, the interest in the opposite sex could not be quelled so easily.
Despite that, this boy was indifferent.
(Don’t tell me he prefers…)
One possibility hit Seria.
However she did not know of such a person.
To begin with, Rio had no friends in the Institute.
(I’m the only one he talks to.)
Rio did not have anyone to talk to besides Seria.
As for Seria herself, she felt that he was feigning ignorance from the talk just now.
Other than during lectures, mealtime, and sleep, Rio was either studying in the library or independently training outside.
Whenever she saw him, he was alone.
With the exception of herself, there were no traces of any women near him.
Whenever she saw him, Seria would always call out to him. In her mind, she saw herself as close friends with Rio.
Therefore she did not think he thought about her in any special way.
Seria had already discarded such an outrageous possibility.
(Or maybe he’s just ignorant. There’s plenty of evidence pointing to this. I can’t see any other possibilities.)
When Seria’s eyes moved towards the front, she saw Rio elegantly drinking tea with the refined movements of an educated noble.
Honestly, he became odious to the point that he looked attractive.
(I’m the only one who sees you like this. What will you do after you graduate? I’m wondering because you never tell me anything. Geez, you can talk to me. I’m worried you know.)
Worried about Rio’s future, Seria decided to ask him directly.
“You know, Rio only has one more year before graduation. Have you decided what you will do afterwards?”
“Ah that’s right. I’ll being staying in the Kingdom for now but, I’ll be going on a journey in the not too distant future.”
“EH! You’re leaving the Kingdom?”
Seria was shocked at Rio’s words.
Certainly she never expected him to leave the Kingdom.
Due to his outstanding martial arts grades, she thought surely he would aim at becoming a knight.
“Well, it’s difficult for me to stay in this Kingdom.”
“…Ne~, why don’t you work as my assistant in my lab? I can’t survive without you anymore.”
Seria said that while surveying the room.
It has been 5 years since she first met Rio.
Initially, Rio found the mess in Seria’s laboratory room intolerable.
However, after coming to the laboratory room so many times, Rio voluntarily offered to clean up the mess.
As a result, Seria was astonished at Rio’s housekeeping skills.
Nowadays, he not only tidied up her room but also brewed her tea and assisted in her research.
“As a noble, isn’t Seria-sensei also at the age where marriage talks should be happening? It’s not good for you to have a suspicious commoner in your room.”
Hearing the words “marriage”, Sera became dejected.
“I— don’t want to think of marriage at the moment. I’ve refused all marriage proposals thus far to focus on my research but it’s getting noisy back home.”
“I think Seria-sensei is free to decide when to marry, isn’t that okay…? Since… you’re already at a marriageable age.”
Though Rio thought otherwise, it was common knowledge that the marriageable age for nobles were in the second half of their teens.
And currently, Seria was pushing past the marriageable age bracket.
However, Seria was an exceptional woman with both social status and remarkable achievements. Even if her age were to exceed twenty years old, it would not be difficult for her to find a marriage partner.
“Aah—! I might get left behind! Oh dear, I wonder what the men of this Kingdom will think when a woman exceeds 20…”
But it seemed like Seria was quite worried about her age and marriage potential.
“Well, personally I think the marriage age for noble women is too young. Seria-sensei is 17 years old forever.”
“Forever 17… Wha— that, it doesn’t sound too bad.”
Seeing her murmur to herself, Rio thought she looked cute. Rio started brewing more tea after seeing that the teapot was empty.
He already knew Seria’s preferences.
After associating with her for many years, he knew Seria was very particular about her black tea. Rio could boast his tea brewing skills were on par with a butler.
It was good enough to satisfy a noble woman.
“That reminds me, the field exercise is coming up. Is it mandatory for all the guys to participate? How much distance will we cover?”
Before he realised it, Seria had returned to reality and directed a question at him.
“It seems the total distance is 20 kilometers.”
“Hee~. That’s impossible for me. I can’t walk that much. It’s already such a pain to walk from here to the school building.”
Seria fell limp on her desk; she grew tired from just thinking about it.
Her long beautiful white hair spread out covering the desk.
“I think Seria-sensei needs a bit more exercise.”
Rio said so while being both amazed and worried for her.
Other than for lectures, Seria rarely ever left her laboratory room.
Even for the daughter of a noble, would not being so out of shape negatively affect her health?
“Yeah yeah. As long as there are carriages, I’m fine. Something like that.”
Hearing the typical lines of a hikikomori, Rio smiled wryly and offered Seria the finished black tea brewed to her preferences.